Working remotely needn’t have a negative effect on your productivity levels. While lighting a home office is probably something that had never previously crossed the minds of many across the UK, the COVID-19 pandemic – and the subsequent switch to en masse home working – has meant that optimal lighting is now worth people’s consideration.
How you light a room can have a significant effect on your productivity levels, mental wellbeing, and concentration. It’s more important than you might think – and a lot of scientific studies back this theory up.
According to Forbes, poorly lit workspaces can cause a range of negative health conditions affecting workers both physically and mentally. These include eye strain, headaches or migraines, fatigue, as well as stress and anxiety – particularly in high-pressure environments. In fact, researchers from Northwestern University found that staff who worked in offices with windows slept for an average of 46 minutes more every night.
So, with this in mind and with a future of working remotely looking all the more likely, take a look at some of the below optimal lighting tips and make your home a productive and well-lit working environment.
1. Maximise Natural Daylight
Don’t sit in the dark! Darkness coupled with the bright lights of your laptop screen will only result in sore eyes. Maximising the natural daylight available to you should be a fundamental consideration when choosing a home office location. Situate yourself by a window to ensure you’re capitalising on all of the available sunlight. Just be mindful of the glare on your computer screen and angle yourself away from direct rays.
Sunlight provides a gentle warmth that improves your working environment, making it easier to concentrate on the task at hand. A study by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois reinforced the importance of natural light for office workers’ health. It has been scientifically proven that exposure to sunlight can increase our mood and increase our alertness – particularly in the morning, which is all the more important when working remotely.
There are also more general benefits for our overall wellness, including getting more sleep at night when exposed to more natural daylight. These may sound like smaller factors, but they can make a big difference when working from your home office for an extended period.
2. Avoid Bright Fluorescent Lighting
While natural light is what you want to be maximising, it is fluorescent lighting that can be detrimental to your productivity levels. One of the great advantages to pivoting to working from home is that remote workers can avoid the harsh fluorescent lighting of old, outdated offices and optimally light their own workspaces.
Fluorescent lighting can cause migraines, eye strain and is generally rather strenuous on the brain. Plus, fluorescent bulbs are less energy efficient than their modern day LED equivalents. However, the biggest danger of intense fluorescent lighting comes after dark, where too much exposure can interfere with your sleeping pattern, as harsh fluorescent lighting inhibits the production of melatonin – a hormone that regulates our sleeping cycle.
Ultimately, fluorescent lighting can really dampen your will to work and lower your productivity. So, if you’re not in a position to be able to switch out all your bulbs, additional lighting may be necessary to help keep you on task.
3. True Tone Display
Using a Macbook? It’s not just the lighting in the room that you can adjust to optimise your productivity. Apple’s computers feature a true tone display technology that adjusts the colour of the light being emitted from your screen to match the ambient light in the room so that images appear more natural. In turn, this makes your experience more comfortable and will allow you to remain more productive while working remotely from your home office.
More into Windows? Microsoft has worked up a similar setting for its Windows 10 computers. Similarly, turning on Microsoft’s ‘Night Light’ setting reduces the amount of blue light emitted by your display, and automatically replaces it with warmer colours that are easier on your eyes.
4. Decorative Lighting
Spark inspiration with a spot of decorative lighting. A desk lamp can add a bit of accent lighting to improve your remote set-up, adding that little extra bit of character to your home office at the same time. Desk lamps can also help you shine a light on the task in hand with most featuring flexible arms and an adjustable height mechanism, allowing you to focus on proofreading that important document, or practicing delivering that killer PowerPoint presentation.
Got a bit of a tight workspace and no room for a desk lamp? Why not opt for a hanging light bulb fixture. Not only will this save space – but it’s also a particularly fashionable solution that will add a bit of style to your home set-up.
Alternatively, LED lightstrips are also a great space saving solution that can optimally light your home office and spark a bit of much-needed productivity. Fully adjustable via voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, these lightstrips can be set to cooler temperatures to aid concentration. Try out blue or white tones for the ideal work environment.
5. Blocking Out Blue Light
None of the above really working for you? Reducing your exposure to blue light may be the answer. Computer screens, smartphones and tablets are all big emitters of blue light, which has led to the rise in popularity of blue light blocking glasses. These specs are now one of the must-have work from home essentials and claim to reduce the strain on your eyes.
As mentioned previously, the production of melatonin is only hindered by artificial lighting, but with blue light blocking glasses, this is less of an issue and your sleeping pattern won’t be affected. But do they work? A review by Cosmopolitan reckons that they drastically improved sleep quality. The only way you’ll know for sure is by trying for yourself.
In summary, placing emphasis on optimally lighting your home workspace can seriously drive productivity. With access to light having such a profound effect on our mood and health, many people can suffer from SAD – or Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you’re struggling to work remotely due to SAD, then these tips will definitely make a difference.
Working remotely can have its disadvantages, but taking control of the lighting in your home workplace will enable you to deliver some of your best work yet – and sleep easier at night.